A Lebanese Woman Reflects on Her Visit to Israel

As a Lebanese-American whose father fled to Lebanon from Haifa in 1948, Carol Jahshan was at first uncertain of her decision to spend three months in Israel. Nevertheless, despite the efforts of friends and family to dissuade her, she went—and found much that was unexpected:

I am dark-haired and olive-skinned. Everyone who addressed me did so in Hebrew. When I responded with “Ani lo m’vinah ivrit” (I don’t understand Hebrew), I was met with surprise. Some Israelis told me, laughing, that I looked more Israeli than they did. Inevitably, the question “where are you from?” would come up. It turned out that I had no need to be anxious [about their reactions]. I let people know that I was from Lebanon and was met with smiles. I let people know that my father was born in Haifa in 1948 and that same year his family took him to Lebanon where he lived most of his life. More smiles and friendly curiosity. . . . I was invited into a variety of people’s homes for Shabbat dinners. This was not the reception I had expected at all. . . . Among the many complex feelings I felt in Israel, one of the most undeniable, surprising, and important was feeling absolutely welcomed. . . .

As [my family and I] drove through northern Israel, I realized how many Arabs live here, and that it would be possible for me to get along just fine in Israel speaking only Arabic. This was another surprise. In all of the conversations I had ever had or heard relating to the political situation surrounding Israel, the existence of Israeli Arabs was simply never acknowledged. All of a sudden, when listening to a Hizballah threat to bomb Haifa, I realized that threats like these are ultimately threats to my own family members and many other Arab people. . . . Another insight I did not have before spending time in Israel.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Haifa, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Lebanon, Palestinian refugees

Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad